It was in a box labeled “Anything $1.” When out rummaging, I always look in these boxes because how can you go wrong for a dollar? A Saturday morning spent cruising rummage sales—or garage sales, tag sales or yard sales, depending on your regional dialect—is like a big treasure hunt; you never know what you might find. And here in the North Woods, where the unofficial slogan is “Buy Used or Die,” rummage sales are key to the secondary economy.
My wife taught me how to conduct a quick windshield scan. If the general colorway of the sale is pastel, kids’ clothes and toys likely predominate, in which case I keep driving. I’m looking for guy stuff, a sale with tools, baby food jars filled with screws, with power equipment and, of course, useful boating and angling accessories. The orange glow of a Stihl chainsaw was the beacon signaling me to stop at the sale with the “Anything $1” box, and my treasure was a like-new coil of four-color trailer wire connected to a seven-pole plug. Just the thing to stash away for a future project.
Later, I visited Chuck Larson, after calling to make sure he was home. There was that time I didn’t call, and through the back-door window I saw Chuck napping on the kitchen floor, curled up with a black Lab. I didn’t knock. This time I found Chuck in his driveway, hands on hips, staring at the trailer that totes his Yar-Craft walleye wagon.
“It’s a mystery,” Chuck said after a moment. “The other day I decided to rewire the trailer lights and do it right. No more Scotchlok splices, nice clean grounds. And I had the entire harness laid out on the trailer and tested the lights, and decided to go for the gusto and install new LED taillights. Now I’m ready to install the new lights, and the wire is gone.”
There was a moment of silence as we both engaged in private contemplation; I considered the best way to take full advantage of this situation.
“Could it be a raccoon?” Chuck asked. “Would a raccoon carry off my wire?”
“I don’t think raccoons have much use for trailer wire,” I said. “But you said you tested the lights?”
“Yup. I just got the new wire in position along the trailer and hooked up to the old lights. And then I plugged into the truck and tried them out.”
“And then you drove to Fleet Farm for the new lights,” I said, “and you probably went down Pearl Street.”
About then the LED over Chuck’s head illuminated.
Read More: Off My Dock
I thought it was pretty miraculous that Chuck drove six blocks before the trailer wires released themselves from the truck—as it happened, right in front the place hosting the rummage sale. I retrieved the coil of wires from my truck and handed it to Chuck.
“Much appreciated,” Chuck said. “What do I owe you?”
I pocketed $2 and drank one of Chuck’s beers. He’s a good friend, but rummaging is serious business.